When we first began this course, I was uncertain. It seems that is a natural progression throughout the MET program; each course is a new adventure. Looking back on the readings and assignments we have completed, it is impressive how much we have learned. My most embarrassing moment was very early on, googling ‘codex’ as I had no idea what we were talking about.
Ong was a challenge for me to understand and apply to my own life and teaching practice, but Bolter presented ideas that have an instant impact. The concept of remediation immediately made sense, and I now look at daily life and education through this lens. There is tension between text and visuals, and we can see the impact in the ways media has changed. Take a look at how newspapers are beginning to look – how they are changing to become more visually appealing and more like a site. We are watching text and communication change so quickly, due to rapid technology growth and change, and it is hard to predict where we will be next. We rely heavily on images and graphics, and we need to ensure that our students are prepared with the tools to decipher text and visuals.
There is concern for the repercussions of such an evolution of text. We hear concerns about youth losing the ability to write and read cursive, spell effectively, and create full sentences and paragraphs without texting lingo and emoticons. These are certainly elements that need to be considered, but I think there is a balance to be struck. Yes, there is a sense of loss when we look back with fondness at sending handwritten letters, but we must consider the gains made in global communication and efficiency.
Last week I was having a discussion with an elementary teacher about the concern that youth are losing the ability to write formally. We see texting lingo creep into typed stories constantly. Within his class, he has seen these shortcuts creep into handwritten work too. This fascinates me, because I can understand how fingers on a keyboard connect naturally to texting language, but when it leaps off the keyboard and into the physical act of printing and cursive writing, we are seeing a true change in the way people are thinking. For example, whenever I type the name Albert on my computer, I can’t stop myself from automatically typing Alberta. But when I handwrite it never happens. It is so connected to the keyboard in my mind that it stays there. We are now seeing a generation where it is infiltrating all areas of writing.
Instead of being concerned with what we are losing, we need to begin thinking about how we can meet the communication needs of our current and future society. If we teach our students how to read and write informal text, visual text, and formal text, they will be prepared for anything and everything that comes their way.
What I appreciated most about our coursework was how it was structured in such a way that we could find those areas that we truly connected with, in both the research topics and the tools we used to present our ideas. I am leaving this course with so many ideas to incorporate into my classes – starting first with digital storytelling and graphic novels.
How about you?